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Voices Of Inspired Children Engaging Society (Voices)

Program Overview           

 

This initiative is our Flagship Social Enterprise. Through the V4C:NAT’s initiative, we provide a consultancy service to businesses, Orgs etc who seek expertise in designing and delivering programs that  elicit and engage the authentic child and youth voice. Income generated from these consultancies go directly to cover administrative costs and organizational overhead.

Our overall objective with this initiative to promote greater public awareness of the importance and necessity of child participation in the community. Through participation in marketing campaigns, joint decision-making with adults and/or with the lobbying of decision makers and advocacy strategies, youth can add a unique perspective with value to community conversations. To achieve the goal of increasing youth participation, VOICES for Change adopts a flexible multi-pronged engagement strategy that builds opportunities for children to improve the capacity and provide opportunities for meaningfully and effectively participation in decision-making.  Through VOICES for Change, young people are provided with the tools, skills, and platform to develop a sound understanding of their rights, and enhance their capacity to address concerns about their rights.

Officially launched on August 16th 2009 to coincide with the VOICES annual Child Participation Day, The VOICES for Change initiative is now a prerequisite add-on to all consultancies VOICES does as a way to capitalize on Government sponsored national summit's to ensure continued engagement of young people all over the country. The seed for this initative was planted during a facilitation consultancy were VOICES Ghana was contracted by UNICEF Ghana to design and led a child participation event as part of UNICEF Ghana's mid-term evaulation. The VOICES for change initaitive, then a project,  was conceived as a way to follow up with participants from the aforementioned national consulation, in order to keep them engaged in actively contributing in their respective communities. 

In the years since then, VOICES Ghana has partnered with UNICEF and the Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs in facilitating 4 more national children summits on development issues. In addition, this initiative has successfully contributed to two policy-impacting task forces: The National Child Abuse Network and the National Sanitation Summit, in addition to the annual child participation day held at the beginning of the academic year. Participants from these summits under the auspices of the VOICES for Change Program have gone on to become youth advocates in their communities on the issues of Sanitation, Petroleum Exploration in Ghana, Child Abuse, African Union and Child Rights.

By providing strategic advice, access to resources and tool kits, through the VOICES for Change program, VOICES is able to keep these young people inspired and equipped to be the change the wish to see in their communities whilst advocating for change on a larger scale.

 

Program Implementation

Annual Child Participation Festival

The Annual Child Participation festival is an event that brings together all the young people that participate in VOICES programs along with students from schools within which VOICES anticipates a roll-out of programming. The main activity of the day is a competitive exercise where the students are randomly assigned into teams and tasked to pick a high prioirty issue in their community and design an advocacy strategy around this issue. This strategy is creatively presented at the end of the festival and the team with the best strategy and presentation wins the title of Advocacy team of the year.

Footage from the 2008 Child Participation Festival:

 

National Child Abuse Network

The first successful VOICES for Change project launched in July 2008 by six alumni members of the Abeka-based PHC. These young people between the ages of 14- 16 were given the opportunity to work with a multi-sectoral group of stakeholders which included the Ministry of Women and Children, representatives for a number of child rights NGO’s, the Ghana Police Service, teaching hospital staff, and The Child Protection Unit of UNICEF Ghana. The youth actively participated in the design and launch of the National Child Abuse Network (NCAN). Over the span of a three-day intensive workshop, these young people meaningfully participated in a series of activities, which included interacting with adult stakeholders and providing a unique youth perspective that is essential to the success of an initiative such as the NCAN. NCAN is tasked to provide a comprehensive, child friendly, sustainable system which prevents and responds to all forms of physical and humiliating abuse.

 

Footage for the NCAN Workshop:

 

"During my three-day stay at HO, I learned a lot. On Wednesday May 7th, 2008, our agenda was themed: What does our child abuse response system look like? The program for today was very interesting and lively. We had a SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threat) analysis exercise in which we broke up into four groups;, the legal systems (consisting of courts, laws, and enforcements), the care and service providers(medical and psychosocial) ,care and protection service providers for survivors(NGOs, fostering, adoption and shelters.) and Policy, Advocacy and research. The aim of this exercise was to conduct a preliminary assessment of the roles, held, and played by the stakeholders present in the child abuse response system. Also, representatives of health care professionals, law enforcements (judiciary) and NGOs gave their process and challenges involved in addressing issues arising from child abuse.  Next, In our individual groups we studied the case of a child survivor who had been engaged in the child sex work to get money for her senior high school education since her mother could not afford it. We looked at how we would help this child survivor if she came to us, our assumptions we bring to bear on our processes and also the challenges we face in our referral process and coordinating without other groups of people engaged in the  same work. Finally, there was a mapping of services activity done in the afternoon.

In conclusion, during my three day stay at HO, I learned; 
1) That the main reason for the workshop was to establish NCAN which clearly sets out the mandate and roles of each stakeholder involved in child abuse cases.
2) That a child protection system is an effective delivery of children who are abused physically and in all manners and also to ensure universal and equitable protection for all children especially the vulnerable.
3) Also children abused in all forms are humiliated and stigmatized.

It was a great opportunity to add our input as young people who understand the realities of those who the NCAN is meant to help. Thank you for inviting us and valuing our participation and input! - Thelma Gyasi, 13

 

National Sanitation Summit

In November 2008, the Ghana Ministry of Local Government organized a National Sanitation Summit in collaboration with UNICEF and VOICES Ghana. Our role in this partnership involved planning a  week-long engagement strategy to achieve the following:

Create a forum where school children between the ages of 11-17 years can share their views and priority concerns in regards to the water and sanitation situation in their communities.

Assist children in designing measurable, sustainable, and achievable projects that help to address the current water and sanitation concerns in their communities. These projects were assigned to V.O.I.C.E.S for Change for ongoing leadership. Create a forum for which the children of Ghana can write a communiqué that expresses their concerns regarding water and sanitation which includes specific actionable recommendations. 

At the end of the summit, The Childrens communique on Sanitation deliverd to the Office of the President.

Three of the 20 projects are described below:

1) Rosina Baidoo's Tree Planting Project: The tree planting exercise began in February 2009 with the assistance of a teacher recruited by Rosina. As at April 2009, more seedlings had been made available for planting and a small group of students had been recruited to join this initiative.

2) Emmanuel Nii's  Out- Gutter Cleaning Project: Emmanuel successfully implemented a peer education strategy within his neighborhood, and then cleaned the gutters in his community along with five of his friends. The small team launched a plastic waste collection initiative where plastic waste collected by the group is sold to a recycling company. The proceeds were then used to buy tools that can be used for gutter clean-up.

3) Dorothy Dechie’s Sanitation Club: Dorothy founded the first sanitation club in her school. The club currently boasts over 20 members who meet regularly to plan various clean-up activities and peer education campaigns.

Footage from the summit is seen below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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